'There's always speculation' - Panthers coach plays down exit of Warriors target Te Maire Martin

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Source:

AAP

Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has moved to sit down with out-of-favour playmaker Te Maire Martin amid speculation the NRL club are on the hunt for Melbourne star Cooper Cronk.

Te Maire Martin.

Source: AAP

Rumours of the club's pursuit of Cronk surfaced not long after Martin was dropped to reserve grade in round eight.

The New Zealand international was immediately linked with a mid-season move to the Wests Tigers and the Warriors.

However, ahead of his team's clash on Sunday with Newcastle, Griffin dismissed any chase for the Australian and Queensland halfback.

"A lot of the stuff that's in the paper, particularly the Cooper Cronk stuff, we understand it's just not true," Griffin said on Saturday.

"It sells papers and I understand the media's got its own agenda there. It's a good story but, within our club and with our team, we understand those things are always around."

Griffin promised Martin a NRL recall, should his form demand it in the NSW Cup, where he will play in a curtain-raiser to the first-grade fixture at McDonald Jones Stadium.

"I spoke to Te Maire this week about where he is with us," he said.

"Obviously, with halfbacks moving around and player managers dealing with other clubs, there's always speculation.

"But Te Maire's playing tomorrow in the NSW Cup and, if he plays well, that'll be great for him and the club and it'll get him closer back to playing first grade with us."

The Panthers will again rely on makeshift playmaker Bryce Cartwright to partner Nathan Cleary in the halves against the Knights, as they hope to build on the back of last week's historic comeback win over the Warriors.

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak that had the pre-season title favourites on the ropes and facing a stiff climb back into top-eight contention, let alone be considered premiership material.

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